Module 6-2 Assignment
Southern New Hampshire University
CJ 230: Discretion in Criminal Justice
Discretionary Laws and Agency’s Culture
Summary of Statute
The Rhode Island Domestic Violence Protection Act is a law that was enacted in
1988. Its primary obligations include the expansion, publication, circulation, and acquisition
of the constitutionally decreed domestic violence/sexual assault reporting document. (Rhode
Island Judiciary, 2014). The law also provides for the arrest of the abuser if there is evidence
of domestic violence, and it commands the establishment of a statewide registry of protective
orders to help law enforcement officers hurriedly recognize potential threats to victims.
Statute and Discretion
The Rhode Island Domestic Violence Protection Act may affect discretionary
decision making in domestic violence situations by administering clear legal guidelines for
law enforcement officers and judges to follow. The act demands law enforcement officers to
complete a DV/SA form when they are answering or investigating a case of sexual assault,
domestic violence, or child molestation. Additionally, the act instructs the institution of a
statewide registry of protective orders which may also affect law enforcement officers’
discretionary decision making in domestic violence situations. By providing clear legal
guidelines and protocols, the act aims to diminish the probability for biased decision making
and boost the security of victims of domestic violence.
The act limits discretion by necessitating law enforcement officers to make an arrest
if they have probable cause to believe that a domestic violence offense has occurred. This
decreases the occurrence of making biased judgements and assures that victims are shielded
from further harm. In contrast, the act also relies on discretion in certain situations. For
instance, judges have discretion in deciding whether to grant a restraining order based on the
evidence presented. Law enforcement officers also have some discretion in concluding
whether an offense has occurred and whether to make an arrest, although this discretion is
bound by the requirement for probable cause. Overall, the act seeks to strike a balance
between limiting discretion in situations where it is necessary to protect victims and allowing
for discretion in situations where it is appropriate to ensure a fair and just outcome.
There are a number of aspects of a law enforcement agency’s culture that may influence
the discretionary decision-making process in domestic violence situations. First, the agency’s
training on domestic violence. Law enforcement officers that are adequately trained on domestic
violence are more inclined to comprehend the dynamics of the crimes and the dangers to victims.
They are also more likely to trust victims and to take steps to safeguard them. Another aspect of
a law enforcement agency’s culture that may influence the discretionary decision-making
process in domestic violence situations is the agency’s culture of accountability. An agency that
holds its officers accountable for their actions is less probable to condone discriminatory or
partial decision making. Lastly, is the agency’s leadership. The agency’s leadership plays an
indispensable function in molding the agency’s culture. Leaders who are dedicated to averting
domestic violence can establish an atmosphere where officers are more likely to take the crime
vigorously and to respond accordingly.
Pollock, J. M. (2018, January 1). Ethical Dilemmas and Decisions in Criminal Justice,
edition. Cengage Learning. https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/books/9781337670876
Rhode Island Judiciary. (2014). Www.court.ri.gov.